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Big Brother: The Big Shit Nothing Could Shift
By Anthony Leahy
“Television knows no night. It is perpetual day. TV embodies our fear of the dark, of night, of the other side of things.”
Big Brother – quite possibly the worst Dutch export since Mateja Kezman (ok, he’s Serbian) – has once again found its way on to our television screens. Series 9 has delivered an unusually diverse range of deviants, opportunists and the emotionally vulnerable in the hope that this will be the BEST series EVER!
Our seemingly endless (as Channel 4 would have us believe) love affair with Big Brother is perhaps indicative of our perpetual desire to escape into a microcosmic world devoid of the stuff of real life. Like characters in a mindless trap, we passively watch the machinations of the contestants unfold, and indulge our desire to become grand voyeurs.
When the first series hit our screens there was a genuine interest in seeing how a group of people would cope with the perpetual glare of the public. The fact that you could log-on to the Internet at 2am and watch someone scratch their arse without divulging your credit card details was a revelation. Indeed, Big Brother was a revolutionary bit of main-stream television and compulsive viewing.
With the arrival of series 9, the hope for the majority of people is to simply see a spot of casual sex unfold, or maybe even some prolonged nudity masquerading as mud-wrestling. Anyone who suggests that his or her interest is anthropological is lying.
Previous Big Brother events have yielded ‘celebrity’ breakdowns, race rows and abuse of the phallic qualities of a cheap bottle of wine. All of these cheapening episodes of human indignity have illustrated the fact that Channel 4 has sought to shock its way to top viewing ratings.
Channel 4, allegedly our most innovative and cutting-edge station, still finds itself relying heavily on the tired and over-exposed formula that no longer delivers the same shocks or tele-visual appeal
Its investment in reality television runs in tandem with a crippling case of avarice, as it dispenses with notions of originality, cultural integrity or, more subjectively, television worth watching.
As my patience runs out with the flaccid and pathetic individuals who debase themselves in the pursuit of fame, I find myself longing for tragedy to unfold. What a joy it would be to see BB9 descend into a Stanford Prison Experiment-like nightmare that results in the contestants not only having a thoroughly miserable time, but also leaving the house emotionally traumatised.
Production Company Endemol, eager to demonstrate that their imagination hasn’t atrophied, has threatened to push the housemates to the limit. This year, contestants will be required to grow then own produce (if ever there was a just case for a potato famine…). Now, I’m not an expert, but the gestation period for a potato plant, coupled with growth up until the point of harvest, isn’t going to leave the contestants with much to eat.
Additional surprises include a mock prison, ready and waiting for anyone finding themselves on the wrong side of Big Brother. If the producers of the show have any integrity they’ll ensure that some loveable character, only looking to do his ‘bird’ with no trouble guv’, finds himself dishing out indiscriminate beatings with snooker ball filled socks.
If time permits, why not build a Panopticon? A spot of coercive observation would make Jeremy Bentham proud (ok, he’s dead, but lets not dwell on the fine detail of the matter). Think of the ratings as we watch contestants knock one out, or engage in a spot of self-harm as they contend with a rat infested shit-hole and 23hrs of confinement in a small cell? We could have a suicide or two? Perhaps a spot of non-consensual buggery in the ‘prison’ shower?
Endemol have also announced that this series will also be ‘funny but evil’ – a notion that was obviously inspired by Robert Mugabe’s attendance at a conference addressing hunger and poverty.
The problem with Big Brother is that it lacks the quality of a good piece of dystopian literature. There’s no cutting edge, no critique of the materialistic bloat of modern society, no underlying theme of contempt for the base motives of the wannabes.
Rather than engineering the collapse of the reality television paradigm, Big Brother simply serves to perpetuate it.
Not content with endless hours of inane banter, petty arguments and night-vision shots of snoring vermin, the show has generated a myriad of spin-off shows that serve to induce a burning desire to maim the new-media whores who dream this shite up.
If there is a God, then she will make sure that BB9 will be the last. She’ll get really angry with her people and demonstrate her fury with a series of heavy-handed interventions - a plague of herpes and rivers of undrinkable booze. At the end of God’s fit of fury, there’ll be no one standing apart from Davina…..and her words will serve as a reminder of what happens when we stray from the path of decent television.
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